Columns

January 23, 2024

The Villa makes it easy to get lost (3), by Eric Teniola

Who else but Professor Benjamin Nwabueze (2), by Eric Teniola

From last week continues the narrative of how Abuja came to become Nigeria’s seat of government following the failed April 22, 1990 coup and how it has fared over the years compared to other countries’ federal capital 

Captain Bade Omowa from Oka, Akoko in Ondo State and others played a major role in rescuing General Babangida and his family from Dodan Barracks, Ikoyi, Lagos to National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos during the failed coup on April 22, 1990. After the coup attempt, it dawned on General Babangida that Dodan Barracks was no longer safe for him. On December 12, 1991, he finally moved the seat of government to Abuja. 

Let us take a close look at the seat of government in France, Great Britain, the United States of America and South Korea in comparison to our own- the Presidential Villa which we refer to often as Aso Rock in Abuja.

Downing Street is the seat of the British Government. It was named after Sir George Downing (1623-1684). It is a street in the West End of London- Westminister in short in central London.

Along the street, the British Foreign Ministry is located; the official residence and office of the British Prime Minister is also located there. It has been so since the time of Sir Robert Walpole (1721-1742).

Tourists go there often. It belongs to the British people. Prime ministers often test their popularity or the acceptability of their policies, through the mood of those who gather often along that street.

The Elysee Palace in Paris has been the official residence of the President of France since 1873. The palace is on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. It was built in 1718 and was once property of Mme de Pampadour. The Landlord of the Palace is France and the first tenant was Louis XVIII, brother of King Louis XVI.

General Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970) once said that ElyseePalace is the only barometer through which he feels the heat of France. ElyseePalace is a pride to every Frenchman. Pictures of the Palace form part of the architecture of France. If you get to Paris and you want to get to the Palace, just to view the place or photograph it, you will be welcome.

When the United States government moved to the largely unfinished new capital at Washington, DC, in 1800, President John Adams and his wife Abigail entered with some trepidation into the executive mansion.

After the design competition had been won by Hoban, construction began in1792 and the original structure was built by 1800 at an estimated cost of $400,000.

When President Thomas Jefferson (who had submitted a lasting design) moved into the White House in 1801, he began energetically planning additions, but these were not finished until after the mansion was partly burnt by the British during the War of 1812. It was painted white for the first time under James Madison, filled with elegant French furniture by James Monroe and graced with indoor plumbing by Andrew Jackson and given the official designation ‘White House’ by Theodore Roosevelt.

The White House contains 54 major rooms, including porticos; it measures 168 feet in length by 152 feet in width. It is surrounded by more than 18 acres of landscaped lawns and gardens.

The White House is normally open from 10 a.m. to 12.00 noon Tuesday to Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in summer. Only the public rooms on the ground floor and state floor may be visited. As everyone knows, it is the residence of the President of the United States.

Cheong Wa Dae (also known as the Blue House in English, is a public park that formerly served as the presidential residence and the diplomatic reception halls of South Korea from 1948 to 2022. It is located in the Jongno district of the South Korean capital Seoul.

Cheong Wa Dae is a complex of multiple buildings built largely in the traditional Korean architectural style with some modern architectural elements and facilities. Cheong Wa Dae now consists of the Main Office Hall Bon-gwan, the Presidential Residence, the State Reception House Yeongbin-gwan, the Chunchu-gwan, Press Hall, and the Secretariat Buildings. The entire complex covers approximately 250,000 square metres or 62 acres.

Cheong Wa Dae was built upon the site of the royal garden of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). While the Blue House served as an executive office, it was one of the most protected official residences in Asia. Upon the inauguration of President Yoon Suk Yeol in May 2022, Cheong Wa Dae was relieved of its duties as the official residence and executive office of the president and fully converted to a public park. The president’s office and residence was moved to the Ministry of National Defense building in the Yongsan District of Seoul.

When Princess Diana of Wales died on August 31, 1997, the public outcry by the British people, forced Queen Elizabeth II to raise the British flag to fly at Buckingham Palace to mourn her. And this is because, the Queen got the mood of the British people, because her residence was within the public reach. Buckingham Palace is a royal residence in London and the administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. 

To be concluded